|Keep ‘em coming back: Keys to customer retentionIf you had the choice, would you prefer to continue doing business with an existing customer or would you rather go out and find a new customer?For most small businesses, the choice is easy. Conventional wisdom says it’s more profitable to keep an existing customer than to start a connection with a new customer – because you’ve already invested in building the current customer’s relationship.|
What can you do to keep your customers coming back? Whether you’re new to the customer retention conversation or looking for a quick refresher, we’ve pulled together some quick tips to customer retention.
Get a baseline measurement.
Total number of customers – number of customers lost
You can do this for your overall customer base as a whole or for key target audiences only. Once you have this number, you can set your customer retention goal.
Go beyond satisfaction.
What more can you do? Check in not only at the time of purchase, but also afterwards. Determine how long it takes for a customer to really become familiar with your product or service. Send a follow-up survey timed appropriately. Let customers know you value their input by including a Picture Key Holder with a print survey – or offering the Blueprint Tote Bag or Ultimate Tote Bag for completion of an online survey.
By learning whether your customers continue to believe they made a good choice, you’ll learn how likely it is they will stay with you. If they’ve had a post-purchase change of heart, it’s time to act and address their concerns. Even if you’re not counting on them to buy again, you want to make sure any potential referrals they make are positive.
Look for customers who appear to be reconsidering and develop promotions to stop them.
What causes customers to look at your competitors? It’s likely a combination of internal and external factors. According to the Qualtrics Wiki on Customer Retention, poor service, the lack of personalization, cost/value breakdown, outdated customer information, competitor superiority or changes in needs are the factors that push customers to shop around. A J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Personal Insurance Retention Special Report found 26-30 percent of households shopped for a new insurance carrier in the last year. Analysts believe that customers began looking at options as the economic downturn began to affect them. If you find customers looking elsewhere, determine what is driving them – price, service or something else. Then, launch a promotion targeting their concerns.
Explore why current customers leave and act on what you learn.
Keep frontline staff in the loop.
Customer retention can be an important complement to existing marketing efforts. By getting a baseline measurement, setting retention goals and focusing promotions and improvement efforts on keeping customers with you, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your current customers. All of your efforts may just bring new customers in, too!
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